Michigan Brewery Wedding: Eric & Kris
June 27, 2015
Kris and Eric met while they were both serving as Americorps members in Anchorage, Alaska. Kris had just returned back to his home state after five years away ,and Eric was making his first move away from Michigan. Kris and Eric met on Eric’s third day in Alaska at a board game night hosted by Kris and his roommates. Around this same time, both joined an LGBTQIA Youth Leadership Summit planning committee, found themselves in the same group of friends and bonded over living on a meager budget. Within a month of meeting each other, Kris and Eric had their first “official” date, where Kris led Eric on a hike up Bear Mountain followed by the pair splitting PB&J sandwiches and mini bottles of champagne at the summit.
After two years together, Kris and Eric were preparing for their next professional transitions, moves that would mean living about an hour away from each other. They were house sitting for some friends on a very hot summer day and were laying on one of the beds in the basement trying to escape the extreme heat. Eric brought up wanting to make sure Kris and Eric took efforts to stay connected once they moved apart and suggested the pair exchange promise rings as reminders of one another while apart. Kris then replied, “I mean, why don’t we just get engaged?” The two talked, overanalyzed, then agreed that yes, they did want to get engaged; yes they did want to be married. They ordered rings that weekend.
Both Kris and Eric have family and friends nationwide, so they knew they needed a wedding venue that was easily accessible to travelers. They also needed a spot close to the Indiana border so they could have a legal ceremony while family was in town, as same sex marriage was not yet nationally recognized during their planning. They chose Kalamazoo, close to Chicago and Eric’s college hometown, electing for a fun, brewery wedding.
Eric contributed his creative vision, love for event planning and ability to spend a week before the wedding in Kalamazoo to the wedding, doing most of the planning. Kris passed on creative ideas, contributing thoughts and feedback. It was stressful until Eric got to Michigan. The grooms planned from Oregon, requiring a lot of trust in their vendors.
Once Eric arrived in Michigan, however, everything came together. Armed with a checklist and plan for decorations and final food details, he, along with his parents and siblings, worked together to help Eric finish it all off. His mom was the biggest support in this process, taking a few days off of work to help Eric shop for supplies, cut out paper hearts, create wine cork poofballs and so much more. Eric’s siblings and dad helped sandpaper blocks, spray paint bookends, cover letters in book pages and make boutonnieres.
Eric and Kris were the first gay couple in Kalmazoo to be married, as the historic Supreme Court decision was handed down on their very wedding day. The date was planned nearly eight months in advance, and the two never expected for it to line up so perfectly.
Each of the grooms had two people standing with them during the wedding—one family member and one dear friend. They represented the many other people who supported them through the years and in their relationship. Officiant Nancy Stefanick was one of Eric’s greatest supporters through his coming out and time in college, and is a part of Eric’s chosen family. Eric and Kris were so honored to have her seal the legalization of their marriage.
When asked to share their advice for other same-sex couples, Kris and Eric responded, “What we would say is throw all tradition and expectations out the window. Being able to approach our wedding and do exactly what we wanted was what made the wedding so special. We approached the day from a perspective of how can we make this as much fun and personal as possible? It was so important for us that everyone in attendance felt as comfortable and involved as possible. Start with what you want out of your special day and build from there. Make the day exactly what you wish it to be.”